Reading the show notes before watching the Onitsuka Tiger autumn/winter 2022 show almost felt like I was in for a whitewashed version of stereotypical Japanese-inspired fashion. Often-used Japanese terms were thrown in—'kimono' and 'wabi-sabi', chief among them—and gave the impression that they'd be translated as key motifs in Onitsuka Tiger's first Milan Fashion Week runway show. Thankfully, it wasn't the case.
Creative director Andrea Pompilio has been at the helm of the brand since 2019. And since then, he's imbued a sense of fashion-forward sensibility that the (essentially) sneaker brand wasn't known for. In parts, there's always a reference to Japanese culture and fashion but weaved in such subtle ways that they would've been entirely missed at a glance. Similarly, that was the execution for autumn/winter 2022.
The entirely all-black collection could pretty much be summed up as 'urban ninja'. Each and every look shown on the runway were immaculately layered, with each layer completely visible and featured different textures and details. Separately, these details could work on their own but styling them together gave such impressive depth and showed Pompilio's brilliant thought process in creating and putting the looks together.
There's no doubt that Onitsuka Tiger's first official live entry into Milan Fashion Week was a success. Beyond that, it strengthened the brand's presence and character rather than just being known for its sneakers.
Look and feel: The Onitsuka Tiger autumn/winter 2022 collection felt every bit modern and built for urban landscapes. There's a sense of Japanese aesthetic in the way that the looks were styled—incredibly black and monochromatic in the vein of famed Japanese streetwear brands the likes of Hyke and Fragment—and underscored by the focus on shapes and silhouettes.
Everything was cut baggy and loose, with a clever play in proportions. Tunic-esque jumpers T-shirts were aplenty and paired with generously cut trousers and bermudas for an overall slouchy vibe but still sporty in feel.
Favourite looks: One of the key motifs in the collection was a flame print that was adorned on a number of the ready-to-wear pieces and accessories. Look 24's version applied the print on an oversized distressed jumper finished with raw edges that seemed to imply it being burnt away by the flames. The look was splendidly matched with monochromatic layers that included the collection's wide-cut bermudas too.
Then there's also the simplicity of look 7. A tunic-tee hybrid made from (what appears to be) weightier fabric and worn over a skirt layer above a pair of trousers, would make for the perfect combination of an everyday fit. It's fuss-free and easy to put together while at the same time decidedly stylish.
Favourite accessories: The sneakers in the collection were definitely not to be discounted. The soles were lifted and slightly exaggerated as a nod to punk-influenced Japanese creepers that one would easily spot along the streets of Japan and worn by a host of individuals. The topstitching on them were beautifully done too, especially along the midsole, with the iconic stripes reinterpreted as stitched instead of panels of leather.
The eyewear in the collection too added some much needed flair to the entire look. This time around, they were done in partnership with Kaneko Optical, a Japanese company known for its eyewear craftsmanship. The pieces created for the collection were a direct contrast to the collection's all-black palette—transparent frames that looked safety goggle-like.